U.S. Supreme Court grants state's request to delay Katie John case

Posted: Wednesday, July 25, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- The state attorney general's office was granted a 60-day extension to appeal the Katie John subsistence case to the U.S. Supreme Court, the governor's office said Tuesday.

Gov. Tony Knowles said he welcomed the delay to allow time to build public support for resolving the long-running subsistence dilemma

Knowles, who favors regaining state management of fish and game from the federal government, has not yet decided whether he will appeal the case.

''Even if we win the Katie John case, we will not have solved that dilemma,'' Knowles said in a statement Tuesday.

The case, named for an Athabascan elder who was denied a subsistence fish camp on the Copper River, established that the federal government has authority on most waters in Alaska to ensure subsistence rights for rural residents. The ruling greatly expanded the geographic scope of the federal government's authority in Alaska.

Alaska's constitution guaranteeing equal access to state resources currently conflicts with federal law passed in 1980 which gave rural Alaskans first priority to the state's fish and game.

The conflict prompted a federal takeover of subsistence hunting and fishing on federal lands.

Alaska lawmakers have repeatedly rejected a constitutional amendment that would make a rural preference for subsistence hunting acceptable under state law.

Last week Knowles announced the creation of a subsistence leadership summit that will meet in mid-August to help resolve the issue. Knowles favors a constitutional amendment to comply with federal laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court has given Alaska Attorney General Bruce Botelho until Oct. 4 to file an appeal in the case, the governor's office said. The previous deadline had been Aug. 6.

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